A View of Our 2022-2023 GEOY Recipients
Through the Eyes of their Principals
Countryside Elementary School
Mrs. Robyn Bulicki is a respected special education teacher of twenty years at Countryside. During her tenure, Mrs. Bulicki has served on the school’s SCIP Team, Hospitality and One School, and One Book Committees. She facilitated after-school clubs, taught district level “New Teacher Orientation” workshops, hosted many student teachers and practicum students, and partnered with the Franklin Institute to present at state level conferences.
Mrs. Bulicki works closely with colleagues and administrators at Countryside School and throughout our Mount Laurel School District. She maintains a high level of integrity and makes everyone feel respected and valued. She takes the time to mentor new teachers and to collaborate with peers across all grade levels. Mrs. Bulicki spends time researching new instructional materials that empower and inspire her grade-level partners. As a lifelong learner, she proactively seeks out opportunities to enhance her instruction. Her colleagues describe her as being the epitome of what we all strive to be as teachers.
Mrs. Bulicki is loved and respected by our community. She demonstrates and models trust in all interactions with families. She communicates regularly with parents about student goals and progress. Robyn Bulicki encourages parents to volunteer and attend school events. She keeps families updated with pictures and announcements on a regular basis. Robyn Bulicki is a role model to all students. She teaches from the heart with kindness and patience. She accommodates the academic, social, and emotional needs of all the students. She fosters a positive learning environment in which students feel safe to make mistakes, and promotes the Room 19 motto of “Everyone Gets What They Need”. Robyn is an advocate for all student needs and for providing the resources to help them reach their full potential. Her students know that their point of view is valued and respected. Mrs. Bulicki handles each situation in a way that students can learn from them and apply them to their everyday lives.
We are proud to honor Mrs. Robyn Bulicki as Countryside’s Governor’s Educator of the Year.
Fleetwood Elementary School
Mrs. Sundaram Walters has been a vital member of the faculty at Fleetwood School for many years. She provides ESL services to an incredibly diverse student population and honors not just the language needs of her students but also the academic and social-emotional needs. She creates a warm and nurturing learning environment for her students and supports classroom teachers in supporting the English Language Acquisition of their shared students. She utilizes the Project Approach to help her students further explore their own and each other's home cultures to help build their sense of identity and empathy for others.
Aside from her work in the classroom and school community, Mrs. Sundaram Walters is an Executive member of the NJTESOL-NJBE Board, a committee member for the Instruction Committee for NJEA, an Advisory member for Digital Promise, NJEA Consortium Curriculum and Design member. She has presented at such events as the NJTESOL-NJBE Spring Conference and West Jersey Reading Council Fall Conference. She is also an adjunct professor for ESL at Camden County College.
In conclusion, Mrs. Sundaram Walters exemplifies what it means to be a culturally-responsive, supportive and caring educator as well as being a collegial and dedicated member of the staff at Fleetwood Elementary School. The community of Mt. Laurel is incredibly fortunate to have her, and Fleetwood School is incredibly grateful and proud to honor her as the school’s Governor’s Educator of the Year.
Hillside Elementary School
Hillside Elementary School is proud to announce Mrs. Charina Zimmerli as the Governor’s Educator of the Year. There are many teachers in Mt. Laurel who deserve this recognition. However, Mrs. Zimmerli definitely stands out as one of the best, exceptionally skilled, and dedicated educators of them all. Mrs. Zimmerli is an exemplary educator. Mrs. Zimmerli serves as a first grade teacher at Hillside Elementary School. She has been teaching at Hillside for 25 years.
Mrs. Zimmerli works tirelessly to meet the needs of her students. She regularly collaborates with her colleagues to find ways to support and enrich every child in all ability ranges so that these students can get the most personalized education possible. She is exceptional with all ability levels and backgrounds. She has a deep love for the students she teaches and cares so much about each of them.
Mrs. Zimmerli has led an abundance of workshops within the district. Teachers from neighboring districts have come to observe Mrs. Zimmerli on the merits, methods, and implementation of math and technology practices. She has served as a mentor to new teachers and has hosted many student teachers and practicum students across her career. She considers this her way of giving back to the profession. Her classroom door is always open for others to come and learn. Charina Zimmerli is a true leader who cares about the profession by how much she helps students and teachers alike.
Her classroom is a safe space where children thrive as individuals. Mrs. Zimmerli serves in her role with such passion, flexibility, and grace. She remains deeply invested in teaching and nurturing every student she comes in contact with as an educator. She is and always will be a remarkable educator. Hillside is honored to have Mrs. Zimmerli as part of its staff. We thank her for her commitment to our school community.
Larchmont Elementary School
It is with great pleasure and excitement that I announce Ms. Maira Medina, as our Larchmont School nominee for the 2022-2023 Governor’s Educator of the Year Program Award. Ms. Medina joined the Mount Laurel School district in 2014 and has played a crucial role in teaching young learners at Larchmont ever since.
Ms. Medina is the example of an exceptionally dedicated teacher. As a first-grade teacher Ms. Medina goes above and beyond to support her students’ academic and social-emotional growth. Ms. Medina often researches ways to help support students in the classroom and home environments. She is innovative, creative and caring. Her ability to collaborate with parents through the year leads to the success of her students as they progress to the next grade level and beyond.
She shows a high level of care, concern and compassion for students, and continuously leads by example; she volunteers to stay late each day to ensure that students arrive home safely. In addition to supporting students, Ms. Medina has served as a teacher leader for her colleagues. Without hesitation she supports the goals, mission and vision of the school. You never have to ask Ms. Medina for support because she will always just volunteer.
Her dedication to the educational field, school, families and students is paramount. Her reputation as a dedicated, caring and supportive teacher is prominent. Ms. Medina is truly deserving of this recognition.
Parkway Elementary School
Mrs. Lori Donnelly received her undergraduate degree from Villanova University, majoring in educational psychology. Prior to becoming an educator she spent many years in the counseling and marketing fields.
She is a 30 year resident of Mount Laurel and has been involved in the Mount Laurel School district for 25 years. She is married with three adult children. Her children are graduates of the Mount Laurel schools as well as the Lenape School District. Her two daughters are elementary educators and her son works in the IT industry. She became involved in the school district when her children entered school and never looked back. She was thrilled with the education and social development her three children received while attending the Mount Laurel Schools and wanted to give back to her own community.
She pursued and received her teaching certification from Jersey City University in 2008 and knew exactly where she wanted to teach. She felt honored to be hired in such an exceptional school district and began her career teaching first grade. She then became the fourth grade inclusion teacher where she stayed for years. Her true passion is teaching math and six years ago became the math support teacher in Parkway Elementary School.
Mrs. Donnelly is an avid researcher and always stays abreast of the newest ideas and ways to reach all of her students. Her goal as an educator is to empower all students to feel confident and comfortable with numbers. One of her favorite quotes that she embraces is by William Paul Thurston and states “Mathematics is not about numbers, equations, computations or algorithms, it's about UNDERSTANDING”. And that is something she strives for everyday for her students.
Springville Elementary School
Lauren Parsons Lam, Springville’s general music teacher, teaches to encompass the whole child, academically and socially. She ensures all children strive to do their personal best. She fosters a love for learning, through academic choice and working as a facilitator and mentor for her students, as well as fellow colleagues. She models acceptance for all individuals and inclusion. She works with teachers of all elementary grade levels and seeks out ways to meet her students’ needs. She has advocated for and welcomed special needs students into her music classes.
Lauren has continued her growth as an educator during her years of teaching, seeking new knowledge to differentiate her instruction and meet students’ various learning styles. Throughout her years, she has worked with other colleagues to write, develop and administer the new curriculum to teachers in Mount Laurel. As part of the Elementary Music K-4 Curriculum Committee, she worked with colleagues to include the new and visual performing arts standards, and added a theater unit to our district’s curriculum.
Lauren is deeply involved in both the school and the greater community. She currently serves on our Site-Based team, as well as leading the chorus after school club and Theater Week at Springville. She is involved in our Sunshine Committee and Social Committee. Lauren meets her students and their families at PTO events throughout the year, such as the Summer Bash. Another way Lauren plays an active role in the greater community is with her theater group, Haddonfield Plays and Players. She teaches at the Haddonfield Theater Arts Center, which is a performing school. She is also part of her local church, where she volunteers for the adult choir bells, the adult choir, and is a soloist. A positive influence on our school climate, parents rave about Lauren and students are always eager to attend her music class. She always shows empathy for her colleagues and is a role-model for staff, as well as students. Lauren Parsons-Lam is the definition of Teacher of the Year! We are lucky and grateful to work with her. She is highly deserving of this award.
Mount Laurel Hartford School
It is my pleasure to nominate Mr. Michael Zilberfarb as Hartford School’s GEOY. "Mr. Z", as he is affectionately known, has been motivating the minds of Hartford School math students for over a decade.
For Mr. Zilberfarb, teaching was a calling, as he came to Hartford School after years in the world of business. After he decided that he wanted a career that was personally more rewarding and fulfilling, he decided that teaching would be the vehicle he would use to give back. We have all been witness to his growth as an educator.
His willingness to do whatever is necessary for his students to succeed is admirable. Not only does he care about his students’ academic success, but his understanding of their social and emotional needs is paramount. If you were to observe any of his classes, you would see an atmosphere of high intensity and rigor mixed with lighthearted humor and fun. He prides himself on the relationships that he builds with his students. Mr. Zilberfarb can frequently be heard telling worried students to "trust the process" as he sets their minds at ease when they might be struggling. He explains to them that within the struggle, there is growth. It is this combination of rigor and relationships that explains why many of his students perform above grade level and surpass their peers in the state on standardized tests.
Hartford School is very proud to have Mr. Z as our Governor’s Educator of the Year for 2022-2023.
Thomas E. Harrington Middle School
Ms. Lori Alfieri has worked diligently as the school nurse at Thomas E. Harrington Middle School for almost 25 years for the Mount Laurel Schools. Before becoming a school nurse, Ms. Alfieri served the community as a nurse at Virtua and also worked for the FBI. She is available to comfort students, educate them on healthy lifestyles, offer first aid and medications, respond to emergency situations, and assist students with their social and emotional needs.
In her nursing practice at Harrington, she strives to make every student a better learner, whether academically, physically, emotionally, or socially. In her school environment, she leads the Rapid Response Team and is a resource to all the other district nurses, her staff members, and students. Ms. Alfieri has served as a mentor for other district school nurses in the past. She is working on helping and supporting the homeless students in her building, as well as providing their parents with different resources to help.
Ms. Alfieri is an active member of the National Association of School Nurses, the NJ State Association of School Nurses, and the Burlington County Association of School Nurses. .In addition to her time helping the students of Harrington, Ms. Alfieri volunteers within the community at various events, works at Rite-Aid using her nursing skills as a vaccinator, fundraises and rides annually in the MS 150 City to Shore ride while also offering her skills and assistance wherever it is needed.